Your Tuesday news:
❖ Rebels in Syria have captured the al-Jarrah airfield in Aleppo. The airfield is near the al-Furta dam which they captured yesterday.
❖ Rallies in Yemen marking the 2011 ouster of ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh were peaceful in Sanaa, the capital, but separatists and Islamists were engaged in clashes in Aden leading to two deaths. Separatists complain “of political and economic marginalisation”.
❖ Protestors and riot police clashed in Cairo during a rally marking Mubarak’s ouster. President Mohamed Morsi accused by secularists of “imposing a new form of authoritarianism and betraying the values of the 2011 uprising.”
❖ In his State of the Union address tonight, President Obama will announce plans to withdraw half of US troops in Afghanistan by year’s end.
❖ Continued concern by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction of the Afghan army’s using US aid funds to purchase Iranian fuel.
❖ “U.N. condemns North Korean nuclear test, promises action”.
❖ “Two Nigerian journalists have been charged [with conspiracy and inciting a disturbance] in court over the killing of nine female polio vaccinators in northern Kano state on Friday”. Huh?
❖ China has now overtaken the US in world trade–$3.87tn in 2012 versus the US’ $3.82tn.
Money Matters USA
❖ David Dayen: “The Government Whiffs, Again, on Mortgage Servicer Abuse”. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has ensured safeguards against the fraud and abuse rampant in the foreclosure crisis,but the equally important goals of “transparency, disclosure and timeliness” remain to be addressed. Much more.
❖ A “sharp and persistent slowdown in the growth of health care costs is helping to narrow the federal deficit”. In response, the Congressional Budget Office has reduced projected Medicare and Medicaid spending by 15%, or $200bn.
❖ Full court press by “Pentagon leaders” before the Senate Armed Services Committee provided “in great detail . . . the ways that sequestration would hollow out the military and cause ‘lasting and irreversible’ damage to national security.” Republican response: cut the federal work force.
❖ Fix the Debt, propaganda group of CEOs, seeks to scare everybody about the national debt. Flip the Debt is their nemesis, showing up at Fix the Debt gatherings with effective heckling and education.
❖ MI’s AFL-CIO and the Building and Trades Council have filed suit in federal court against MI’s new “right-to-work” laws.
❖ “Medical marijuana brings in $10m for Michigan.”
❖ After his State of the Union address on Thursday, President Obama will be having a “Google+ Hangout”.
❖ The right-ward swing of the term ‘left-wing’: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) hopes President Obama won’t offer any “litany of left-wing proposals” in his State of the Union address.
❖ ABC News/Washington Post poll today: 52% of US adults have a “favorable opinion of Obama’s second term policies”; 55% have an “unfavorable opinion” of what the GOP’s pushing.
❖ Little boys in the schoolyard: “Boehner accuses Obama of not having ‘the guts’ to cut spending”.
❖ Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) are co-sponsoring legislation “to make sure voters do not wait in line for more than one hour to cast a ballot.”
❖ E-mails from a ‘Peter Williams’ allege Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) had “inappropriate sexual activities with young prostitutes” in the Dominican Republican and his relationship with Dr. Salomon Melgen of Miami included use of Melgen’s private jet for the trips. Now that these allegations are swirling around Menendez, ‘Peter Williams’ has gone silent.
❖ Is ex-Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) trying to get his child support obligation terminated since he’s unemployed? Update: Walsh is now threatening to sue the Chicago Sun-Times for publishing the story that he’s behind in child support payments. The Chicago Sun Times stands by its story.
❖ PA Gov. Tom Corbett (R) has succeeded in getting the lowest approval ever for job performance in his position. 26% of registered voters say he’s doing a good job. Only 41% of Republicans approved.
❖ OH Republican Gov. John Kasich intends to impose a series of new sales taxes “on everything from haircuts to cable TV to funeral services”.
❖ Two Chicago males have been charged with the death of Hadiya Pendleton, the talented 15-year old who performed with a school band at the inauguration and was gunned down in a community park near her home a week later.
❖ A newspaper calling “for Wisconsin secession and a new civil war” was distributed at the NRA Wisconsin State Convention back on February 9th.
❖ For sale at some gas stations around Eaton, CO: ”Illegal Immigrant Hunting Permit” bumper stickers.
Health, Homelessness & Hunger
❖ Sister Simone Campbell says the Pope’s reprimanding those Nuns on the Bus for focusing on “social justice and not enough on stopping abortions,” etc. ”inspired [them] to work that much harder.”
❖ NC Gov Pat McCrory (R) is opposed to expanding Medicaid in his state under the Affordable Care Act.
❖ A first in the state: an elderly care facility operator in Sacramento, CA is being charged with manslaughter in the death of an elderly resident last June. Ghastly stuff.
Planet Earth News
❖ 100+ environmental groups will have a “major rally” following President Obama’s annual address to Congress on Sunday, February 17th. Here’s a list of similar rallies being held elsewhere for those who can’t get to DC.
❖ Shell Oil is reportedly shipping its Alaska offshore rigs to Asia for “upgrades and repairs” thus–wait for it–”raising doubts over Arctic drilling plans”.
❖ Let’s hear it for Homer! The Homer Village [IL] Board rejected “an agreement for treated water and sewer services for Sunrise Coal LLC’s proposed Bulldog coal mine”, surprising everyone.
❖ Not so much for Sanford, NY where the town board banned “frack” talk at meetings. They’re being sued.
❖ “Middle East river basin has lost Dead Sea-sized quantity of water . . . from Turkey . . . to Syrian, Iran and Iraq”.